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Thursday–a Day Late

January 15, 2016

IMG_2585One of the first points I noted in Chapter 1: January is that I am more likely to stick with resolutions (plans, goals–call them what you like) if (1. I make a commitment and (2. I establish accountability either by telling others what I am going to do, so I’ll be shamed if I quit or, even better, I enlist others to join me. Accountability is the trendy word, but it helps. In Bill Bryson’s delightfully funny, interesting, and entertaining book A Walk in the Woods, he says that once he decided to hike the Appalachian trail, he announced his intention in his Christmas cards so everyone would know and hold him to it. That’s why I wanted some of you to join me this year.

Of the three areas Rubin discusses in this chapter, this week it makes sense for me to focus on “Toss, Restore, Organize.” If you haven’t inferred from my Facebook posts, we have recently sold our house. The contract came four days after the first showing and the closing is set for thirty days after that. February Second.  I don’t have time to sleep–and when I do, I dream either of packing boxes or of driving around looking for a house. My exercise plan right now has a lot to do with lifting heavy objects (boxes of books) and going up and down stairs.

I’ve always been fascinated with books about organizing the clutter.  My fascination calls to mind the old poster (it would be a meme today): “I’m fascinated by work. I could sit and stare at it all day.” Ironically, I have at least one small boxful of books on organizing and learning the clutter. One covers two areas of this month’s focus: Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, in which author Peter Walsh contends that disorganization in one’s life has a strong connection to overeating and being overweight. I think I ate the book.

One of my favorites is the Sidetracked Sisters’ Happiness File. Unlike most books like this, it’s not written by people who are naturally organized, telling the rest of us what we’ve been doing wrong. These two sisters were so disorganized that the clutter was having a negative effect on their lives and their marriages. They used a 3 x 5 cards system that made a lot of sense, whether one adopted the whole thing or just adapted it to meet one’s needs.

I’m reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo now, mainly thinking of how to take her unusual principle and apply it to my notebooks full of poems. I can’t imagine having the time or opportunity to take every article of clothing to one room, picking up each, piece by piece, and determining if it brings me joy. Confession: I have a Jerry Jeff Walker concert t-shirt from 1976. It doesn’t fit. It brings me joy.

Moving does teach me the only lesson of pseudo-physics I know: Stuff expands to fill up the available space. Whether I move often, as we did in the first years of our marriage, or every ten years, as we’ve done the last couple of moves, I have more stuff than I can even sort. The biggest physical quantity is composed of books. Imagine that. The second biggest is other nostalgic paper stuff: photographs, letters, old newspapers.  I’ll probably summon the nerve to toss some of those magazines I’d love to go through again. I will keep the Oxford Americans (my answer to most folks’ stacks of National Geographic).

I don’t have time (or desire) to have a yard sale, although I have so much I’d like someone else to have. I have things I could sell if I had time to fool with it. I know that the closer we get to closing, the less I’ll worry about it. I’ll throw away, give away, beg others to come and take it away.

The big dilemma now, as well look for a house, is whether I should look for one with plenty of storage, knowing I’ll fill it up, or one with out much extra space, hoping I’ll improve my habits. Either way, I hope it’s the path that leads to more happiness.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. sandyyoung75 permalink
    January 15, 2016 6:55 pm

    Oh, Nancy (my Cuz), you have hit so many nerves with this post, and I’ve loved every hit! How could we not be blood cousins? Beats me because we really are alike. I know you want us to introduce ourselves, but I’ll have to take a bye on that for right now. Lots of uninteresting things on my to-do list for today, and they’ll have to take precedence, I’m afraid. Happy packing . . . and maybe throwing a few things away.

  2. sandyyoung75 permalink
    January 16, 2016 11:35 pm

    I just read a blog post by my friend Betsy Brandt and thought I’d share it with you, Cuz, and all the other members of our group. It doesn’t EXACTLY fit with what we’re doing, but I think it’s very good reading and applying for all of us.

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